Supporting Nurse Practitioners as ‘Priority Primary Care Practitioners’

July 29, 2010

By Susan McBride, PhD, RN, professor at Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Nursing 

It’s important for nurses to understand the Medicare and Medicaid incentives to implement electronic health records (EMRs) and to move to their “meaningful use,” as well as the purpose of the Regional Extension Centers created to support nurse practitioners and other “priority primary care providers” in the implementation process.

Dr. Mari Tietze, John Delaney, and I are fortunate to be involved in two of the Regional Extension Centers in Texas. We believe that nursing professionals have many contributions to make in the evolving electronic highway in the U.S. We will blog later about our roles as nursing informaticists in the Regional Extension Center program.

What are ‘Regional Extension Centers’? Under the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) Health Information Technology Initiative to support getting providers to meaningful use on electronic health records, the ONC has established Regional Extension Centers. There are 60 Regional Extension Centers that will furnish assistance to providers in specific geographic services areas covering virtually all of the U.S. A total of $643 million is devoted to these centers.

The purpose of the Regional Extension Centers is to support priority primary care practitioners in priority settings to implement and use EMRs according to the meaningful use requirements outlined in our previous post (below is a screenshot illustrating one example of how an EMR might align with meaningful use requirements; click image to enlarge). The goal of the program is to provide federally subsidized outreach and support services to over 100,000 priority primary care practitioners within the next two years. 

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Regional Extension Centers will provide the following support services to providers:

  • EHR implementation
  • education and training
  • project management
  • incentives
  • meaningful use

NPs as “priority primary care practitioners.” A priority primary care practitioner is defined by the ONC as a primary care provider  that is any doctor of medicine or osteopathy, any nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or physician assistant with prescriptive privileges in the locality where she or he practices, who is actively practicing in one of the following specialties: family, internal, pediatric, or obstetrics and gynecology.

Priority settings. Many NPs work within priority settings identified by the ONC, including small group practices of 10 or fewer, public and critical access hospitals, federally qualified health care clinics, rural healthcare clinics, and other settings serving uninsured, underinsured, and medically underserved populations.

NPs are eligible for support services of the Regional Extension Centers. For more information on what services might be available to you, contact the Regional Extension Center within your geographic region. A table and map covering the 60 centers is available here.

Incentives program for EMR implementation. February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and along with that Act $33 billion dedicated to Medicare and Medicaid incentives for providers and hospitals who adopt, implement, or upgrade an EMR system and meaningfully use that system. As we blogged previously, meaningful use of EMRs has many parameters that providers must meet—but with that comes financial incentives that eligible providers can receive.

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For Those Interested In Learning More, See Below….

There are educational events planned by CMS that are right around the corner to inform eligible providers.

SAVE THE DATES: CMS Education Series for Providers on the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) invites you to join us for a series of national provider calls addressing the specifics of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs for hospitals and individual practitioners. Learn the specifics on what you need to participate in the these incentive programs –

  • who is eligible,
  • how much are the incentives and how are they calculated,
  • what you need to do to get started,
  • when the program begins and other major milestones regarding participation and payment,
  • how to report on Meaningful Use measures
  • where to find helpful resources and more.

EHR Incentive Programs for Eligible Professionals:  

A session just for individual practitioners on the specifics about the Medicare & Medicaid EHR incentive program

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2:00-3:30 pm EST

EHR Incentive Programs for Hospitals:

A session just for hospitals on the specifics about the Medicare & Medicaid EHR incentive program

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2:00-3:30 pm EST

EHR Questions and Answers for Hospitals and Individual Practitioners:

Have questions? Join this session to have an opportunity to ask a question and hear answers by our panel of experts on the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2:00-3:30 pm EST

 Save the dates! Information on how to register for these calls is forthcoming.

Materials will be made available prior to each training at the this Web address.  

Cannot attend? A transcript and MP3 file of the call will be available approximately 3 weeks after the call at this location on the CMS website.

Be sure to visit CMS’ Web section on the Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs to get the latest information. Visit often!

Visit the Medicare Learning Network  ~ it’s free!

Other links:

HITECH Priority Grants Program: Health Information Technology Extension Program Facts-At-A-Glance

Full funding opportunity for the Regional Extension Centers.

One comment

  1. I’m a pediatric nurse. I’m interseted in the Medicare and Medicaid incentives.


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